Surrey man convicted of stabbing pregnant girlfriend to death gets new trial


Summary

A man who was convicted of stabbing his pregnant girlfriend to death has had his murder conviction overturned and a new trial ordered.

In June 2008, a B.C. Supreme Court jury found Amjad Khan and Naim Mohammed Saghir, an alleged accomplice, guilty of the first-degree murder of Khan’s girlfriend Tasha Lynn Rossette, 21.

The victim’s body was found by her sister on Nov. 22, 2005 lying at the threshold of her Surrey apartment.

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She’d been stabbed 40 times with a knife, with some of the stab wounds being defensive. Her throat had been slashed. Rossette was four months’ pregant with Khan’s child.

The couple, who had known each other since high school, had begun a casual sexual relationship in late 2004.

The Crown’s theory at trial was that Khan feared he would bring shame to his family if it were known he was a father and he didn’t want to have the responsibility of having a child.

Prosecutors called several “unsavoury” witnesses to bolster their theory.

One of the witnesses said that Khan told him the pregnant girl was not going to have an abortion and that “the only way to get rid of this problem is to kill her.”

Khan offered to buy the witness a car if he killed the girl, court heard.

The witness also said that Saghir came to him and told him that he’d killed the girl Khan had gotten pregnant.

Saghir told the witness that he had to “slice that bitch’s throat because she was fighting back,” court heard.

At trial, Khan denied killing Rossette and said that on the night of the murder he’d dropped her off at her apartment house and then went home.

On appeal, he and Saghir put forward a number of grounds of appeal.

In a ruling posted online Tuesday, the B.C. Court of Appeal found that three of those grounds were sufficient to overturn the conviction and require a new trial.

One of the grounds related to an allegation by the accused that the Crown had improperly bolstered the credibility of one of the unsavoury witnesses.

In his reasons for judgment, B.C. Court of Appeal Justice David Frankel said the so-called oath-helping evidence was exacerbated by the Crown referring to it in closing submissions and by the judge referring to it in summarizing the Crown’s case.

Frankel also found that the Crown had improperly cross-examined Khan with respect to how he conducted himself while being interviewed by the police.

“Further, the charge to the jury with respect to the third-party suspect defence was flawed,” he said. “In light of these errors the convictions cannot stand.”

The third-party suspect defence referred to a theory by the defence that someone else was responsible for the murder.

Madam Justice Risa Levine and Justice Harvey Groberman concurred in Frankel’s reasons.

Simone Rossette, the victim’s mother, was clearly distraught when reached by telephone on Tuesday.

“I just found out about it two minutes ago,” she said. “I just talked to the police. I can’t say anything right now. I have to phone my daughter.”

 


A man who was convicted of stabbing his pregnant girlfriend to death has had his murder conviction overturned and a new trial ordered.

In June 2008, a B.C. Supreme Court jury found Amjad Khan and Naim Mohammed Saghir, an alleged accomplice, guilty of the first-degree murder of Khan’s girlfriend Tasha Lynn Rossette, 21.

The victim’s body was found by her sister on Nov. 22, 2005 lying at the threshold of her Surrey apartment.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

She’d been stabbed 40 times with a knife, with some of the stab wounds being defensive. Her throat had been slashed. Rossette was four months’ pregant with Khan’s child.

The couple, who had known each other since high school, had begun a casual sexual relationship in late 2004.

The Crown’s theory at trial was that Khan feared he would bring shame to his family if it were known he was a father and he didn’t want to have the responsibility of having a child.

Prosecutors called several “unsavoury” witnesses to bolster their theory.

One of the witnesses said that Khan told him the pregnant girl was not going to have an abortion and that “the only way to get rid of this problem is to kill her.”

Khan offered to buy the witness a car if he killed the girl, court heard.

The witness also said that Saghir came to him and told him that he’d killed the girl Khan had gotten pregnant.

Saghir told the witness that he had to “slice that bitch’s throat because she was fighting back,” court heard.

At trial, Khan denied killing Rossette and said that on the night of the murder he’d dropped her off at her apartment house and then went home.

On appeal, he and Saghir put forward a number of grounds of appeal.

In a ruling posted online Tuesday, the B.C. Court of Appeal found that three of those grounds were sufficient to overturn the conviction and require a new trial.

One of the grounds related to an allegation by the accused that the Crown had improperly bolstered the credibility of one of the unsavoury witnesses.

In his reasons for judgment, B.C. Court of Appeal Justice David Frankel said the so-called oath-helping evidence was exacerbated by the Crown referring to it in closing submissions and by the judge referring to it in summarizing the Crown’s case.

Frankel also found that the Crown had improperly cross-examined Khan with respect to how he conducted himself while being interviewed by the police.

“Further, the charge to the jury with respect to the third-party suspect defence was flawed,” he said. “In light of these errors the convictions cannot stand.”

The third-party suspect defence referred to a theory by the defence that someone else was responsible for the murder.

Madam Justice Risa Levine and Justice Harvey Groberman concurred in Frankel’s reasons.

Simone Rossette, the victim’s mother, was clearly distraught when reached by telephone on Tuesday.

“I just found out about it two minutes ago,” she said. “I just talked to the police. I can’t say anything right now. I have to phone my daughter.”